Question: I have trouble with organizing my blog posts, and I’m getting ready to start doing a podcast. Since I have trouble with organization, I’m afraid I will ramble off topic in my podcast. A friend recommended that I do an outline. Should I? How would an outline help me organize my blog posts and podcasts?
If you have trouble organizing your thoughts, then you should definitely do an outline. I’m a huge fan of outlines. Anything that needs a plan of action requires an outline. This goes for your blog posts or your podcasts.
If you’re not confident that you can stay on topic, then the outline gives you more confidence as you write your blog post or record your podcast. You don’t have to think about what idea is coming next – it’s in the outline. You’ve already decided. This leaves you free to concentrate on the words and transitions from one idea to the next.
The outline gives you a way to focus your blog topic or podcast idea. If your idea requires research, the outline helps you decide what information is within your focus and what isn’t. Without an outline, you may wallow in a pile of notes with no idea of how to put them together, or have a guest on your podcast and have no idea how to guide them through your topic.
It’s okay to revise your outline as you complete your post or podcast, but if you at least start with a direction, you’re less likely to get lost.
Outlining forces you to think through your ideas more thoroughly. It also makes you look at your facts and see if any areas are thin or lacking in research. An outline also shows the relationships between ideas and where transitions should be.
The level of detail in the outline depends on what you’re writing. If it’s a 500 or 1,000 word blog post on your latest travel journey, you can probably just quickly write:
- Getting there
- Food and restaurants
- Sightseeing experiences
Bam! You have a rough outline you can quickly fill in. But if you’re writing a 1,500-word blog post where you are going to cite several sources, or record a 45-minute podcast, you want a longer and more detailed outline, using Roman numerals; A’s, B’s and C’s; and 1’s, 2’s and 3’s.
People like logic and organization as they read or listen to stories and podcasts. For your own sake as you create your online pieces, an outline will keep you organized and confident. For your audience’s sake, an outline will help you create a piece that they will be able to enjoy.